The art of using palm leaves to make clothing, accessories and crafts is a worldwide practice. In Italy, the palm leaf holds a special religious meaning linked to Jesus, and palm weaves create religious symbols like crosses and roses. Island cultures use palm leaves for decoration, costumes and hats. Hat makers use the method of palm weaving to develop hats. The measurements of the palm leaf determine how large a palm leaf hat will be.
Cut the palm leaves so that they are 3 feet long. Set the straw hat on a flat surface. Place a palm leaf on top of the hat with one end in the center of the hat. Position the leaf so that it covers the hat, and bend the excess over the brim. Use a pencil to mark this spot where the brim meets the palm leaf.
Place two lines of hot glue down the length of the palm leaf, stopping at the pencil mark. Turn the palm leaf over and adhere the leaf to the hat. Hold the palm leaf to the hat for at least a minute. Pick up the next palm leaf and position the leaf so that it overlaps the first palm leaf slightly. Mark the place where the brim meets the palm with the pencil. Place two lines of hot glue down the length of the palm leaf once more, stopping at the pencil mark. Flip the palm leaf so that the glue is facing the hat, and stick it on the hat. Keep the leaf in place by holding it until the glue dries. Repeat this process until the hat is completely covered with palm leaves.
Use the glue gun to ring the inside brim of the straw hat with hot glue. Fold over the extra sections of the palm leaves to cover the underside of the band of the hat. Trim off any lengthy portions of the palm leaves that might poke the wearer.
Preserve the size of the hat and lengthen the longevity of the palm leaf hat by freezing it. Place the hat into a freezer to kill the chlorophyll in the palm leaves; this process enables the hat to cure without shrinking. Keep the palm leaf hat in the freezer until all portions freeze solid.
Remove the hat from the freezer after the leaves have frozen. Put the hat in a place where the sun will allow it to thaw. Keep the hat in the sun for at least a couple of days to ensure all sections of the hat have dried out.